Campus & Community

Harvard ROTC: Soldiers and Scholars

5 min read

Celebrating One Hundred Years of Public Service and Military Excellence

The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) celebrates its 100th anniversary at Harvard this year. The program is defined by high standards of academic and physical training that prepare cadets for both military and public service.

Kira Headrick ’17 explained field training in the Air Force ROTC Leadership Lab, saying, “Every week, cadets have military knowledge to learn that will be implemented in weekly training involving a move-in drill, Air Force chain of command, or a scholarly quote about military history or strategy. ROTC is full of preparation so one can perform well when the time arrives.”

Navy cadet Katrina Hagedorn ’20 reflected on her commitment to service, saying, “There is an incredible sense of community within the program and a universal obligation among the midshipmen to serve. This sense of duty motivates all of us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can possibly be.”

Kira Headrick ’17 (second from left) leads Air Force training for Harvard students, (from far left) Matthew Ontiveros ’20, Austin Carter ’20, Peter Hartnett ’19, Rachel Collins ’20, Katherine Krolicki ’20, and Raul Cuevas ’20 at the Radcliffe Quadrangle.
As part of Harvard’s first-ever Air Force ROTC academic classes and Leadership Laboratory at the Radcliffe Quadrangle, Rachel Collins ’20 (far left) practices marching with ROTC students from MIT, Wellesley, and Tufts.
Kira Headrick ’17 (center) teaches Raul Cuevas ’20 (from left) during the Air Force ROTC training as Katherine Krolicki ’20 and Rachel Collins ’20 stand at attention. “As a first-year College student, I’m not entirely sure about what I want to pursue in the future,” said Cuevas. “However, I am certain of the inspiration I feel whenever I’m in the presence of my fellow cadets.”
U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Clifford (clockwise from far left), an assistant professor in aerospace studies at MIT, teaches cadets Ryan Comrie ’19, Peter Hartnett ’19, both from Harvard; Ryan Friedman ’19, from Tufts; Jordanne Stobbs-Vergara ’19, of Wellesley; and MIT students Matthew Hutchinson ’19, Riley Steindl ’19, Alexander Knapp ’19, during Air Force ROTC academic classes and Leadership Laboratory inside the Harvard Student Organization Center at Hillis. Commander Sheryl Double Ott of the Air Force ROTC Detachment 365, a visiting professor at MIT (upper right), looks on.
Katherine Krolicki ’20, salutes while standing at attention, while Rachel Collins ’20 (left) looks on. “My goal is to become an intelligence officer because I have a desire to serve my country,” said Krolicki, “Air Force ROTC has provided me with an amazing community and team. All of the cadets give me so much support in and outside of the program.”
For Kira Headrick ’17, “Holding this training at Harvard meant more than just the instruction itself. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of ROTC at Harvard, as well as the first recognition of Air Force ROTC by the University since the Vietnam War. With this recognition came the complete restoration of Harvard’s relationship with all three branches of ROTC, and allowed Air Force ROTC to hold events on campus once more. More than just marching, this training was a tribute to past cadets who worked to unite their ROTC program and campus.”
After attending a science class at 60 Oxford St., Kira Headrick ’17, holds a prototype of her senior thesis project — a variable stiffness paper folding mechanism that will be used for a soft silicone rubber robotic leg.
Army ROTC cadet Alannah O’Brien ’19 performs a deadlift during physical training exercises at Harvard’s Murr Center. ROTC requires a demanding array of push-ups, squats, and weight-lifting exercises.
Army ROTC cadets Luke Pumiglia ’17 (from left) and Nathan Williams ’18 participate in PT at the Murr Center. “I joined Army ROTC because I was dedicated to helping and serving other people — my ultimate goal is to serve as an Army surgeon — and the privilege to serve alongside the friends I have made in Army ROTC,” said Pumiglia.
Framed by football training equipment, Luke Pumiglia ’17 (from left), Alannah O’Brien ’19, and Nathan Williams ’18 run together at the Harvard Stadium. “I joined Army ROTC in order to help shape future military policy,” said Williams, “Through Army ROTC, I’ve entered a tight-knit community of cadets who not just push one another to their physical limits, but also never hesitate to help one another during times of need.”
During an official military tour stop in Memorial Hall, where the University’s war veterans are honored, Navy ROTC’s Brendan Rodriguez ’20 (right) and Katrina Hagedorn ’20 discuss their goals.
Lit by stained-glass windows, Brendan Rodriguez ’20 admires the display of military history inside the Memorial Hall.
Deborah Lee James (right), the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force, shakes hands with Kira Headrick ’17 (left). Harvard President Drew Faust welcomed the return of the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program to campus with a ceremonial signing and reception inside Loeb House on April 22, 2016. Also present are Ryan Comrie ’19 (from far left), Peter Hartnett ’19, and Alexander Farrow ’16. Rose Lincoln /Harvard Staff Photographer
During the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony for the Class of 2016 in Tercentenary Theatre, 12 graduates proudly stood together: James Clarke (from left at rear), Lucy Perkins (blocked), Carolyn Pushaw (blocked), Robert Solmssen, Myles Stroud, and Adam Gracia; Charley Falletta (from left to right, front), Anne Nonnamaker, Francis Davis, Steven Wessman, Jimmy Castaño, and Alexander Farrow. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Ongoing at the Pusey Library is an exhibit dedicated to Harvard’s military history. “To Serve Better Thy Country: Four Centuries of Harvard and the Military” features hand-drawn Civil War maps, debates on nuclear research, and other materials from the University Archives. Free and open to the public. More here: